Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Plow

I had a teacher in high school, (he was a bit eccentric to say the least) who tried to promote a new belief/movement, that the plow, and not the wheel, was the most important invention that lead to the development of civilization. I think at some point he even had t-shirts made up to unite his plowing followers.

At the time, I thought this teacher was a bit...uh say the least, and while I have no intention to "re-invent the wheel" (no pun intended...ok, maybe it's a little intended.) I can at least appreciate this amazing piece of equipment, and respect the importance and effect it's had on today's civilization.

In my post last week, The Creation of the Cornfield, I promised to take you through the different steps of our corn planting experience and highlight the equipment that we used to create our field.

Our tractors Alice and Ruby were truly the "get up and go" of the process, but I will be saving their introductions for a different post, as much of this equipment was at one point horse drawn, and for me, that brings even more romance and whimsy to the whole thing.

The plow is interesting in that it's such a simple design. It has few moving parts, but works so well. With a powerful tractor or horse it seems to effortlessly carve it's thick steel blades into the soil, flipping it over to make way for the next crop.

We were fortunate enough to have a friend with a plow (among other things) that was willing to help us out. This plow is an 18" double bottom plow that was made to be pulled behind a tractor. It has only 2 adjustments that allow you to adjust the depth on either side. On your first cut the far side needs to be adjusted to plow deeper since the gauge wheel is not yet riding in the trench you cut before. After your first pass, it can be adjusted up to match the other side.

To start out we decided where we wanted our corn field and lined up the tractor and plow on the far side. To engage the plow we simply pulled the cable attached to the left gauge wheel that allowed the plow to ride onto the cam attached to the wheel and drop into the lower position. As the tractor moved forward the plow shears dug into the virgin soil and began to work. At the end of the row we tugged on the cable again and the plow rode the cam into the upper position. On the next pass you need simply line up your right tires into the trench from the preceding row.

For more plowing fun read my post Plowin' The Four Tractors and an Army Truck Technique!


Shannon C said...

I love the post! And, the historian in me can totally see your teacher's point. The plow did turn a hunter gather society into what we know as more of an agricultural based one. Fascinating. I once read that the invention of air conditioning did more for "the South" than the cotton gin. Hmmm you might need to grow cotton to try out that philosophy. . .

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